READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Wednesday, August 26th…

Sponsored by the American Farm Bureau Federation

China, Lighthizer Talk Trade Agreement

China reaffirmed this week its commitments included in the Phase 1 trade deal. The pledge comes out of a conversation between U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Chinese trade officials, the first formal dialogue since early May, according to Reuters. In a statement following the call, Lighthizer says, “Both sides see progress and are committed to taking the steps necessary to ensure the success of the agreement.” The call was scheduled for August 15, the six-month anniversary of the trade deal, but both sides offered conflicting statements about why the original call was canceled. China cited scheduling conflicts, while President Donald Trump claimed he canceled the meeting himself. China’s pace of purchasing U.S. ag commodities is lagging from expectations, leaving some questioning if China will follow through. The USTR statement continues, “The parties also discussed the significant increases in purchases of U.S. products by China as well as future actions needed to implement the agreement.”

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Trump Announces More Funding for Food Box Program

President Donald Trump Monday announced an additional $1 billion for the Farmers to Families Food Box program. The announcement came the same day Trump secured the Republican nomination to run for another term. The Department of Agriculture announced the program earlier this year, along with $3 billion in funding to help farmers and consumers during the COVID-19 pandemic. Through the program, USDA purchases food from farmers, then local distributors pack and deliver the boxes to families in need. The White House announced that the number of food boxes distributed recently reached 70 million. Trump says, “Altogether, we’ve delivered over $3 trillion in economic assistance to the American people, and the American farmer has done very well,” adding, “I never hear any complaints from the American farmer.” Trump made the comments at Flavor First Growers and Packers in Mills River, North Carolina, and was joined by Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue.

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Iowa Lawmakers Estimate Crop Losses in Request for Relief

Federal lawmakers from Iowa estimate potential derecho (Deh-RAY-cho) losses at 725 million bushels of corn, and nearly 153 million bushels of soybeans. The estimate was part of a letter sent to Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue recently requesting a Secretarial Disaster Designation for 57 Iowa counties. The lawmakers say the severe storm swept through much of Iowa with sustained winds in excess of 100mph. Within the requested 57 counties, there are 8.2 million corn acres and 5.6 million soybean acres. Based on satellite imagery and preliminary storm reports, approximately 3.57 million acres of corn and 2.5 million acres of soybeans can be seen to be severely damaged, with millions more acres affected to varying degrees. Iowa producers have also suffered significant damage to homes, grain bins, barns, and other infrastructure critical to their farming operations and livelihoods. The lawmakers say, “It is critical that you grant this Secretarial Disaster Designation that will make these producers eligible for resources that will help mitigate these significant losses.”

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Ethanol Groups File Court Briefing Supporting Year-round E15

Responding to the oil industry’s effort to undermine the expansion of E15, ethanol groups filed a court brief supporting E15. Growth Energy, the Renewable Fuels Association, and National Corn Growers Association filed the brief in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit late last week. The brief supports and defends the Environmental Protection Agency’s 2019 regulation that finally allowed year-round availability of E15. As intervenors in the oil industry’s lawsuit against EPA’s regulation allowing year-round E15, Growth Energy, RFA, and NCGA are “vigorously protecting the agency’s final rule,” which extended the Reid Vapor Pressure volatility waiver for E10 blends to E15 as well. The organizations further point out that extending the volatility waiver from E10 to E15 is appropriate because the volatility of the fuel actually decreases as more ethanol is added into gasoline beyond E10. The brief states, “This Court should not allow the petroleum industry and its allies to stymie competition in this comparatively small but important portion of the U.S. transportation fuel supply.”

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USDA Assists Farmers, Ranchers, and Communities Affected by Recent Wildfires

The Department of Agriculture Tuesday announced assistance for agricultural producers affected by recent wildfires. The assistance will help eligible farmers and ranchers reestablish their operations. Wildfires have burned more than two million acres, mostly in western states. Nearly 28,000 personnel from the local, state and federal levels are responding to 157 separate incidents, 95 of which are large, uncontained fires. USDA officials say more than 6,000 firefighters from the USDA Forest Service are battling wildfires alongside state and federal partners. Bill Northey, USDA Under Secretary for Farm Production and Conservation, says, “USDA is ready to offer all the assistance we can to the affected farmers, ranchers and communities to help them recover.” When major disasters strike, USDA has an emergency loan program that provides eligible farmers low-interest loans to help them recover from production and physical losses. Farmers and ranchers impacted by wildfires are encouraged to contact their local USDA Service Center to learn more.

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USDA Announces Urban Ag and Innovation Grants

The Department of Agriculture Tuesday announced the selection of recipients for about $4.1 million in grants and cooperative agreements for urban agriculture. Through funds come from the new USDA Office of Urban Agriculture and Innovative Production. These are the first recipients of the grants and cooperative agreements. The program supports a wide range of activities through two grant types, which are Planning Projects and Implementation Projects. Activities include operating community gardens and nonprofit farms, increasing food production and access in economically distressed communities, providing job training and education, and developing business plans and zoning. Priority was given to projects located in or targeting an Opportunity Zone, which is a census tract designation for low-income communities. The Office of Urban Agriculture and Innovative Production was established through the 2018 Farm Bill and is led by USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service For a complete list of grant and cooperative agreement recipients and project summaries, visit farmers.gov/urban.

SOURCE: NAFB News Service

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By Brian Allmer - The BARN

Brian Allmer & the BARN are members of the National Association of Farm Broadcasting (NAFB), the Colorado FFA Foundation, the Colorado 4H Foundation, the Colorado Farm Show Marketing Committee, 1867 Club Board Member, Denver Ag & Livestock Club Member, the Weld County Fair Board, the Briggsdale FFA Advisory Council, Briggsdale 4H Club Beef Leader & Founder / Coordinator of the Briggsdale Classic Open Jackpot Show.